Their View: Optimism, resilience is country's strong point
Julia Pryde is not a household name. She was a 23-year-old graduate biology student who wanted to encourage recycling at the cafeteria of Virginia Tech University. Her face is not as universally known as that of Seung-hui Cho, the man who shot her and 31 others on campus last week. Cho secured his status as an icon of infamy by taking time, amid the massacre, to send a video manifesto to a TV network. Cho not only wanted to terrorize his fellow students, but to stare the world in the face, or rather, to force the world to look him in the eye.
Cho was a psychopath determined to kill. It may be the case that his determination was expedited by easy access to guns. But that is a feature of American society and American politics with its own strange logic, immune to comment by outsiders.
The image of Cho striking murderous poses crosses all cultures. It is the face of modern, media-literate terror. That is not a fair emblem of modern American society. A truer symbol is found in the packed classrooms and lecture theaters of Virginia Tech, filled, just days after the massacre, with students who were determined to get on with their education - a triumph of youthful optimism over deadly nihilism.
- The Observer, London